prices http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/5818/all en-US 8 Buys That Will Be Cheaper in 2015 http://www.wisebread.com/8-buys-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2015 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-buys-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2015" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-pumping-gas-thumbs-up-Dollarphotoclub_59630807.jpg" alt="man pumping gas" title="man pumping gas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>2015 is shaping up to be a great year.</p> <p>While economists agree that the Great Recession was officially over back in 2009, you may not have felt the benefits until recently. But thanks to a stronger dollar and lower commodity prices, several industries now have a cost advantage and are ready to pass on those savings to us consumers.</p> <p>Here are the eight things that will be cheaper in 2015.</p> <h2>1. Gasoline</h2> <p>As a resident of the notoriously expensive state of Hawaii, I couldn't be more ecstatic about this news! U.S. gasoline prices ended 2014 at their <a href="http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=19471">lowest levels since May 2009</a>. And they might be about to drop even lower. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2015 the average price per gallon will be about $2.60 (the average in 2014 was about $2.71). Some states are expected to enjoy per gallon prices below the $2 mark. As of December 2014, some gas stations in Texas were selling gas at&nbsp;<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2014/12/05/news/texas-gas-prices/">$1.89 and $1.99 per gallon</a>.</p> <h2>2. Air Travel</h2> <p>The benefits of falling fuel prices are trickling down to other industries, among them the airline industry. Carrier companies are likely to <a href="http://www.dailyfinance.com/2015/01/12/will-airfares-drop-cheaper-oil/">cut the average flight's ticket price</a>&nbsp;by 5% in 2015. However, don't expect this price drop to happen right away. Airlines are experiencing healthy demand from consumers and are still tied up with fuel contracts at old prices. Due to this, economists suggest that it will take about six months for airfares to drop. Some analysts predict that flights leaving from Dallas, Washington, and Tampa could experience the biggest drops from last year's prices (-11.2%, -6.7%, and -5.9% respectively).</p> <h2>3. Bacon</h2> <p>Bringing home the bacon just got easier: Experts expect <a href="http://restfinance.com/Restaurant-Finance-Across-America/September-2014/Food-Prices-Should-Get-Better-Except-For-Beef/">bacon prices</a>&nbsp;to fall 15% to 17% in 2015. I know what you're thinking, &quot;How do I go about becoming a bacon expert?&quot; But let's keep on topic. Due to moderate corn prices, the pork and poultry markets will be able to lower the prices of several products, including cheese, chicken breasts &mdash; and yes, bacon.</p> <h2>4. Milk</h2> <p>There are two reasons why you can expect lower milk prices this 2015. First, <a href="http://www.agweb.com/article/how-russia-us-milk-ban-affects-markets-nate-birt/">Russia's ban on U.S. milk imports</a> is forcing producers to find other buyers. Keep in mind that milk is a perishable item, so this puts pressure on them to accept lower prices. Second, the lower price of corn, used in the feeding of cows, is boosting per-cow milk output to record levels. U.S. dairies are expected to reach production levels of <a href="http://www.agweb.com/article/wasde-more-milk-fewer-exports-lower-prices-in-2015-catherine-merlo/">212.8 billion pounds of milk</a> in 2015, a 6.7 billion pound increase from 2014 levels. This excess supply means lower milk prices for you.</p> <h2>5. Smart watches</h2> <ul> <li>2013 gave us the Samsung Galaxy Gear.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>2014 revealed to us the Apple Watch.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>2015 will give us a bigger and cheaper selection of smart watches.</li> </ul> <p>While the Apple Watch looks very cool, its expected $349 price tag may turn off price-sensitive customers. That's why Chinese equipment manufacturers are racing to capture the wearables market by producing <a href="http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2848817">Android-based smart watches</a>&nbsp;with retail prices as low as $30. This aggressive pricing strategy is bound to drive down the price of existing Android-based smart watches below $150.</p> <h2>6. Cloud Storage</h2> <p>If you're currently paying for your cloud storage, you probably loved seeing Microsoft and Amazon&nbsp;<a href="http://www.computerworld.com/article/2486931/cloud-computing/amazon-and-microsoft-drop-cloud-storage-prices-by-up-to-50-.html">dropping their cloud storage prices</a>&nbsp;by up to 50%. In August 2014, Dropbox reduced the price of 1TB storage to $9.99 per month. Then later in October, Microsoft rolled out unlimited cloud storage to its Office 365 subscribers.</p> <p>Cloud storage's race to zero, as in $0, is on. Take advantage of these falling prices, but make sure to keep your data safe. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-critical-steps-to-protect-your-data-in-the-cloud?ref=seealso">10 Critical Steps to Protect Your Data in the Cloud</a>)</p> <h2>7. New Homes</h2> <p>Most analysts agree that <a href="http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2014/11/update-more-2015-housing-forecasts.html">new home sales</a>&nbsp;will be above the 500,000 mark in 2015. That means that builders need to come up with about 50,000 new homes from existing inventory from the Great Recession era. One opinion is that builders are going to sell fewer expensive new homes to be able to come up with that inventory. These new homes are often packaged with eased credit conditions for buyers with moderate credit scores. As the prices of homes are plateauing around the country and new inventory becomes available, 2015 may be a good year to acquire a home.</p> <h2>8. Gold</h2> <p>What goes up, must come down. And gold is not an exception.</p> <p>Gold is often used as a commodity to hedge against rising prices. Given that there are so many industries set to enjoy cost breaks throughout 2015, there are fewer concerns about inflation, thus reducing demand for gold. Goldman Sachs forecasts&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-23/cheaper-oil-putting-gold-out-of-job-as-an-inflation-hedge.html">gold prices to drop $1,050</a>&nbsp;by December 2015, while SocGen expects a price of $950 in 2015's Q4.</p> <p>To put things in perspective, the price of gold peaked at $1,923.70 an ounce in 2011. If there was ever a good time to pick up gold, it would be 2015.</p> <p>So, the next time somebody tells you about the &quot;good ol' days,&quot; you have eight reasons to let them know that the good ol' days for consumers are here now.</p> <p><em>Which price drops are you looking forward to the most this year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-buys-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2015">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-these-8-things-to-profit-from-the-improving-economy">Do These 8 Things to Profit From the Improving Economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-pricey-things-you-shouldnt-buy-and-what-to-get-instead">14 Pricey Things You Shouldn&#039;t Buy (And What to Get Instead)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-creative-ways-to-avoid-spending-money">13 Creative Ways to Avoid Spending Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-sneaky-ways-you-cheat-on-your-budget">6 Sneaky Ways You Cheat on Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-normal-economy">The new normal economy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping Economy income prices spending Fri, 16 Jan 2015 12:00:03 +0000 Damian Davila 1280355 at http://www.wisebread.com Can Low Prices Hurt Your Business? http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/can-low-prices-hurt-your-business <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/can-low-prices-hurt-your-business" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/can-low-prices-hurt-your-business</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/can-low-prices-hurt-your-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000008576917Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="190" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Low prices draw customers in, true. But that's not all they do. They can also <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/the-psych" target="_blank">send a message to your customers</a> that you don't want them to hear.</p> <p><strong>Consider the Giants</strong></p> <p>Consider two retail giants: Target and Walmart.</p> <p>Target is the trendier, hipper, and <em>slightly </em>more expensive store. It has cuter stuff, trendier clothes, and nicer selections. You go to Target when you want to take it up a bit in style and quality, and you don't mind paying a (slightly) higher price to do so.</p> <p>Walmart is the low-price leader. You go to Walmart when you want one of everything and you want it at the lowest price.</p> <p>Walmart has obviously done just fine with the low-price retail model. They've done so well, in fact, that their efforts to become trendier and pricier haven&rsquo;t worked. They end up settling back into the low-price leader position. That's where they've established their niche. It's where their customers expect them to be.</p> <p>And that's the point.</p> <p><strong>What Your Customers Expect</strong></p> <p>If you advertise your wares at the lowest possible price, you might draw a crowd. Here's the question, though. Is it the crowd you want to draw?</p> <p>You've got to take a deep breath and look past the immediate lure of cash coming in the door. Look long-term. What kind of customers do you want? What kind of customers will build your business?</p> <p>What kind of customers like what you're doing enough to pay full-price?</p> <p><strong>How Low Prices Can Hurt</strong></p> <ul> <li>Low prices can end up attracting low-end buyers for your high-end products and services.</li> <li>Low prices can scare your high-end buyers away. They're looking for quality and you're offering something that sounds too cheap to be valuable.</li> <li>Low prices can tag you as a discount brand when that's not what you want to be.</li> <li>Low prices can get you customers that love your initial buy-in (it's so cheap!) but will leave you on the follow-up (full-price) offers.</li> <li>Low prices can establish you in a particular market segment, and it might not be the right one for you.</li> <li>Low prices can trap you in a loss-leader position you can't afford to maintain.</li> </ul> <p><strong>How Low Should You Go?</strong></p> <p>Of course low prices aren't all bad. But use low prices wisely. If your entire customer base is built upon the fact that you slash prices to offer the absolute best deal in your market, realize that your customers will leave you when a better deal comes along.</p> <p>Low prices are a tool that small business can and should use. But you shouldn't plan to build your business on offering low prices... unless you're planning to be the next Walmart.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/can-low-prices-hurt-your-business">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10+ Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-ways-to-use-social-media-in-business">13 Ways to Use Social Media in Business</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center loss leader low prices price strategy prices small business Thu, 13 Oct 2011 18:02:59 +0000 Annie Mueller 732714 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Tricks Your Grocer Doesn't Want You To Know http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tricks-your-grocer-doesnt-want-you-to-know <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-tricks-your-grocer-doesnt-want-you-to-know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5422275514_7fc6bf2510_z-1.jpg" alt="Tricks Your Grocer Doesn&#039;t Want You To Know" title="Tricks Your Grocer Doesn&#039;t Want You To Know" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on price tricks your grocer doesn't want you to know, how to create breathing space in your budget, and insurance policies you shouldn't buy.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://getcurrency.com/dining-travel/5-sneaky-price-tricks-your-grocer-doesnt-want-you-to-know">5 Sneaky Price Tricks Your Grocer Doesn't Want You to Know</a> &mdash; Your grocer doesn't want you to know that there are bad deals at the checkout line. [Currency]</p> <p><a href="http://www.pfadvice.com/2011/06/01/29-ways-to-quickly-create-breathing-space-in-a-budget/">29 Ways to Quickly Create Breathing Space in a Budget</a> &mdash; Have some breathing space in your budget by modifying your insurance. [Personal Finance Advice]</p> <p><a href="http://financialhighway.com/7-insurance-policies-you-shouldn&rsquo;t-waste-money-on/">7 Insurance Policies You Shouldn't Waste Money On</a> &mdash; Don't waste your money on children's life insurance. [Financial Highway]</p> <p><a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/newlyweds-how-to-blend-your-finances.html">Newlyweds: How to Blend Your Finances</a> &mdash; When blending your finances as newlyweds, be sure to keep one credit card in your name. [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="http://genxfinance.com/five-simple-ways-to-save-on-gas/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=five-simple-ways-to-save-on-gas">Five Simple Ways to Save on Gas</a> &mdash; Save money on gas by consolidating your trips. [Gen X Finance]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/college-degrees-that-make-the-grade">College Degrees That Make The Grade</a> &mdash; Getting a degree in health care makes it a safe bet that you will have a job after you graduate. [Parenting Squad]</p> <p><a href="http://steve-olson.com/5-simple-ways-to-build-self-confidence/?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+steve-olson%2FnXDA+%28steve-olson.com%29">5 Simple Ways to Build Self Confidence</a> &mdash; Have more self confidence by dumping your doubts on paper. [Steve-olson.com]</p> <p><a href="http://www.theamateurfinancier.com/blog/frugal-friday-food/">Frugal Friday - Food</a> &mdash; Be frugal when it comes to food by checking the unit price. [The Amateur Financier]</p> <p><a href="http://cashmoneylife.com/strategies-for-surviving-a-financial-crisis/">3 Strategies for Surviving a Financial Crisis</a> &mdash; Survive a financial crisis by solving more business problems. [Cash Money Life]</p> <p><a href="http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/taking-things-personally-4-ways-to-stop/">Taking Things Personally - 4 Ways To Stop!</a> &mdash; Stop taking things personally by being brave and speaking up. [PickTheBrain]</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tricks-your-grocer-doesnt-want-you-to-know">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-times-to-go-grocery-shopping">The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-easy-ways-to-stretch-your-grocery-dollars">20 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Dollars</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sleek-marketing-ploys-aimed-at-getting-more-of-your-grocery-money">5 Sleek Marketing Ploys Aimed at Getting More of Your Grocery Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-sort-of-small-kitchen-gadgets-that-equal-big-savings">4 Sort-of Small Kitchen Gadgets that Equal Big Savings!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-grocery-store-secrets-only-the-pros-know">10 Grocery Store Secrets Only the Pros Know</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink best money tips Food groceries prices Fri, 03 Jun 2011 10:00:18 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 560940 at http://www.wisebread.com Can a Little Inflation Be Good? http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-little-inflation-be-good <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-a-little-inflation-be-good" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/baloon-inflation-3_0.jpg" alt="Balloon Inflation" title="Balloon Inflation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="277" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Let me jump to the end and say right at the start that I don't think so. However, there's a serious argument being made right now among economists and economic policy makers that higher inflation would be good. There's enough of them in the pro-inflation camp that it's worth taking a look at what they're saying.</p> <p>The Economist has a good article summarizing the current economic thinking that <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2010/02/monetary_policy_1">very low inflation can lead to trouble</a>.</p> <p>The basic case of the pro-inflation camp is that certain kinds of economic adjustments are very hard to make under a condition of stable prices. The classic example is wages, which are (in the term economists use) &quot;sticky on the downside.&quot; That is to say that workers will resist wage cuts very strongly &mdash; strongly enough that employers find it easier to cut jobs than to cut wages.</p> <p>When an economic downturn hits during a period of very low inflation, it's hard to adjust. Output goes down, jobs are lost, businesses go bust, asset prices fall, etc. (In other words, exactly what we're seeing right now.)</p> <p>When there's a little inflation, it's possible to make much the same adjustments with less loss in output. Instead of trying to cut wages, employers can achieve the same result simply by giving raises lower than inflation. That means that fewer jobs are lost, fewer businesses go broke, asset prices don't have to fall as far, and so on. Economists like to speak of a little inflation as a &quot;lubricant&quot; in the adjustment process.</p> <p>In addition to making the adjustment smoother (all wages and prices go up, but some go up slower than inflation, which amounts to a cut), a little inflation can stimulate the economy, by prompting people to buy now before prices go up (i.e. before the value of their money falls even further).</p> <p>I've talked before about the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/inflation-is-worse-than-you-think ">downsides of inflation</a>. When prices are stable over the long term, people can focus more of their attention on productive activities and less on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debasing-not-just-the-currency">keeping track of price changes</a>.</p> <p>Worse, though, I think higher inflation rates are inherently unstable. An inflation rate under 2% is low enough that inflation can just about be ignored, and a consensus can develop that it's okay. A higher inflation rate, though, becomes noticeable &mdash; and there will be pressure to change the inflation rate. Whether the pressure to raise the inflation rate will win over the pressure to lower the inflation rate can't be known, so everyone has to keep their plans flexible so that they can adjust to either possibility. That makes it much tougher to make long term plans &mdash; and that, I think, costs our economy quite a bit.</p> <p>Maybe my thinking is overly influenced by my own experience &mdash; I was setting up my first household in 1980-1981, right at the peak of the 1970s inflation. But I don't think inflation is ever a better answer than stable prices.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-little-inflation-be-good">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/more-than-just-inflation">More than just inflation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-depression">Recession Depression</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/another-path-to-recovery-higher-incomes">Another path to recovery: higher incomes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-normal-economy">The new normal economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/peak-debt">Peak Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Financial News economics economist inflation prices rising prices Wed, 17 Feb 2010 14:00:05 +0000 Philip Brewer 5307 at http://www.wisebread.com Are Most Businesses Going Green Just to Save Some Green? http://www.wisebread.com/are-most-businesses-just-going-green-to-save-some-green <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-most-businesses-just-going-green-to-save-some-green" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/335844468_8938ff60cd.jpg" alt="green green" title="green green" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">I heard an interesting story the other day. A radio DJ was annoyed because when he went to pick up his boarding passes from the check in counter, he was handed them without any kind of ticket wallet to keep them together. The reason: <em>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s our effort to save the environment sir.</em>&rdquo; But was it really just an effort to save money?</p> <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><p>&nbsp;</p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">When you think about it, airlines are hardly the greenest of companies. When you get to you gate, you are presented with your jet plane complete with thousands of gallons of fuel. The haze of fumes rising from the fuel is enough to make you think you&rsquo;re witnessing an oasis in the desert.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">But still, every little helps. And yet when the DJ was informed of the disappearing wallets for boarding passes and ticket stubs, he was more than a little cynical. <em>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t buy it. Are they being green, or just saving some green?&rdquo;</em> he asked his audience.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It&rsquo;s a legitimate question. Is it fair for businesses to hide cost-cutting exercises under the guise of environmentally friendly intentions? It seems more than a little sneaky to me. After all, if they&rsquo;re making these cuts for the planet, and not for profit, then shouldn&rsquo;t we see some of that money coming back to us in the form of lower prices?<span style=""> Most likely, any cuts that are made benefit the corporations and their shareholders, not the general public.</span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">When I started looking for other examples of &ldquo;green initiatives&rdquo; I did start to wonder if the planet really was the cause for the change, or was it simply done as a way to increase the health of the corporation&rsquo;s bottom line.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">From cheaper, recycled toilet papers, to decreased services in hotels and restaurants, I noticed the influence of the environment everywhere. On a flight recently, I was asked to re-use the same plastic cup. In a hotel, the towels were only washed if I specifcally requested it. At a New York pizzeria, napkins were limited to THREE per customer. (I only needed one by the way, but if you've ever eaten out with young children, those three napkins would have been stretched thin.) Ironically, in that same pizza place I saw that the prices had actually gone up, with makeshift stickers being placed over cheaper prices. The economy is certainly taking its toll, and yet the environment is supposedly the cause of the cutbacks.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Now I, for one, like that we&rsquo;re saving the planet in any way that we can. And I love that our corporations are embracing it. But it does make me wonder what the real reason for change is.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Have you noticed these changes around you? Have you been charged MORE for green products and services that actually cost less to produce and maintain than the non-green versions? Have you ever felt a nagging doubt that profit was the real reason for change, not the environment?</p> <p class="MsoNormal">At the end of the day, I suppose it shouldn&rsquo;t matter too much. After all, if the business saves money and helps the environment in the process, regardless of their intention, then that&rsquo;s a good thing, right? But when you see no added benefit in the form of a price reduction, or you even see a price hike for going green, well that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.</p> <!--EndFragment--><!--EndFragment--><p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-most-businesses-just-going-green-to-save-some-green">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-the-courtesy-flush-dead">Is the courtesy flush dead?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/there-are-cheaper-ways-to-return-to-a-greener-earth">There are Cheaper Ways to Return to a Greener Earth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-end-of-the-energizer-bunny-six-products-that-dont-need-batteries">The end of the Energizer bunny: SIX products that don&#039;t need batteries.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/super-cheap-building-supplies-and-a-way-to-help-your-community">Super-Cheap Building Supplies and a Way to Help Your Community!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/our-obsession-to-clean-is-making-us-trashy">Our Obsession to Clean is Making Us Trashy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Green Living cutbacks environment green prices Wed, 02 Sep 2009 14:00:03 +0000 Paul Michael 3564 at http://www.wisebread.com Watch Out for Surge in CPI http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-surge-in-cpi <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/watch-out-for-surge-in-cpi" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/baloon-inflation-3.jpg" alt="Baloon 1" title="Baloon 1" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="277" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Just to be clear, I'm also worried about a surge in inflation, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I don't know the future, so I try to stay away from predictions. But you don't need to know the future to &quot;predict&quot; a surge in the Consumer Price Index. All you need is to know the recent past.</p> <p>I distinguish between inflation and the CPI. Inflation is the <strong>money becoming less valuable</strong>. The Consumer Price Index is an <strong>indicator of recent prices</strong> based on the prices of a standard basket of consumer goods.</p> <p>The CPI is just a number. The number for June (reported July 15th) was 215.693 (versus a base of 100 in 1983).</p> <p>Most people, though, don't really care about the number--they care about changes. And that makes sense--rising CPI values are an indication of rising prices, and rising prices are an indication of inflation.</p> <p>(As an aside, rising prices don't <em>necessarily</em> mean inflation. Lots of things, such as changes in styles, tastes, and consumer preferences can change relative prices. Some things, such as taxes, technological change, and resource depletion, can change absolute prices. But none of those things are inflation, even if they result in rising prices.)</p> <p>Almost all the attention to the CPI focuses on two things:</p> <ul> <li>The change from last month</li> <li>The change from last year</li> </ul> <p>And it's that second one that prompts me to warn of a surging CPI.</p> <p>After peaking in July last year, energy prices fell for months. From July 2008 to March of 2009, energy prices fell 37%. (Data from <a href="http://www.bls.gov/cpi/">Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>.) Energy prices amount to about 7.5% of the index, so that fall, all by itself, has had the effect of subtracting something like 3 percentage points from the overall CPI change from a year ago.</p> <p>The thing is, most of the recent fall occurred in the last three months of last year. In the CPI index values published in the coming November, December and January, those big declines will &quot;drop off&quot; the year-ago comparisons--which will produce the surge I'm talking about. The &quot;change from a year ago&quot; values reported for the CPI for those months is going to be much higher--pretty much regardless whether there's any inflation.</p> <p>Does it matter? Well, it matters to some people--people who invest in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-and-i-bonds">TIPS</a>, for example, care a lot about the reported value of the CPI. (People on Social Security also care a lot, but as it happens the base year for figuring Social Security cost of living adjustments ends in September, so the effect of this spike won't show up until 2011.)</p> <p>In fact, though, what really matters to real people is how their own <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/roll-your-own-cost-of-living-index">cost of living</a> changes.</p> <p>I just wrote a post making fun of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oh-noes-inflation">another economist's prediction of inflation</a>, so I want to be really clear about the distinction here: What I'm talking about is a statistical artifact of the way the CPI gets calculated. For the past year, falling energy prices have made the inflation numbers look artificially low. For the next few months, CPI calculations of &quot;changes from a year ago&quot; is going to show inflation numbers that are artificially high--even if the value of the money were stable, we'd still see a spike in the CPI simply because the base month for comparison is going to have lower and lower fuel prices.</p> <p>Last October I wrote a post called <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/inflation-is-going-away-for-a-while">Inflation is going away for a while</a>. Despite my general reticence about making predictions, things seemed clear enough to risk that one. This post is my official announcement that &quot;a while&quot; is just about over.</p> <p>With that in mind, I'll direct you to a post of mine from earlier last year: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-live-with-inflation">How to live with inflation</a>. Everything old is new again.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-surge-in-cpi">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oh-noes-inflation">Oh noes! Inflation!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-little-inflation-be-good">Can a Little Inflation Be Good?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/roll-your-own-cost-of-living-index">Roll your own cost-of-living index</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/more-than-just-inflation">More than just inflation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-series-i-savings-bonds-i-bonds">A Simple Guide to Series I Savings Bonds (I-Bonds)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance cpi inflation money prices Thu, 16 Jul 2009 17:00:08 +0000 Philip Brewer 3392 at http://www.wisebread.com Sticky prices http://www.wisebread.com/sticky-prices <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sticky-prices" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bubblegum.jpg" alt="Bubblegum" title="Bubblegum" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="214" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I&#39;m old enough to remember when a piece of bubble gum was a penny.  In fact, it was a penny for most of my youth--and had been a penny for a couple decades before I was born.  As inflation began to heat up in the 1960s, though, the Topps company first shrank the size of a piece of gum, and then eventually had to raise the price.</p> <p>I talked last week about the costs everyone faces trying to deal with unpredictable price increases and <a href="/debasing-not-just-the-currency">changing product sizes</a>.  This post is about some special cases.</p> <h2>Uncertainty cuts sales</h2> <p>One problem that businesses face is that customer uncertainty means some business is completely lost:  A customer who has $10 in his pocket might decide not to eat at a restaurant that had charged $9-something last week, simply out of fear that the cost had gone up.  Bad enough if the price had, in fact, gone up--but even worse if the price was still the same, but the customer didn&#39;t want to take the chance.</p> <p>Businesses try various things to fight this.  One is simply to advertise prices as a way to reduce uncertainty.  Since it&#39;s hard to remember whole price lists, companies start giving whole categories of items a consistent price--creating &quot;dollar menus,&quot; selling $5 foot-long subs, and so on.</p> <p>The downside of advertising prices--and of making them easier to remember--is that it makes the prices harder to change.  It&#39;s one thing if you raise the price of your hamburgers from 87 to 89 cents.  It&#39;s an altogether different thing to charge $1.02 for the stuff on your dollar menu.  The result is sticky prices--prices that are hard to change.</p> <h2>Sticky prices</h2> <p>That was the problem Topps had with it&#39;s one-cent bubble gum.  Their only choices were to hold the line or to double the price.  It&#39;s a cruel irony that the exact same inflation that pressures companies to advertise their prices to reduce the losses caused by price uncertainty, turns right around to punish them again once they do so, because advertising makes their prices sticky--making it all the harder for the seller to make the small price increases that let them stay even with inflation.</p> <p>Another example would be the newspaper.  The way they&#39;re sold--in machines that don&#39;t give change and at newsstands where you put down your money, grab a paper, and go--makes it convenient for people to pay an even amount.  My local paper costs 50 cents, and it&#39;s just not practical for the newspaper to push the price up to the 53 or 54 cents that would bring them even with recent inflation.  They probably won&#39;t even raise the price to 60 cents, although they could.  I bet they&#39;ll hold the line as best they can until they simply have to make a change, and then they&#39;ll go up to 75 cents.</p> <p>In general, I expect we&#39;ll see much the same from the dollar menu.  Over the next few months we&#39;ll see all the same little tricks--servings will get smaller, and items with expensive ingredients will drop off the dollar menu.  Pretty soon they&#39;ll quit advertising the dollar menu (making up some new alternative: &quot;$4 feasts&quot; perhaps).  Once a minimally decent interval has passed, the dollar menu will be gone.</p> <p>Someday, we will once again have a currency that holds its value.  Then both prices and package sizes will be stable.  I&#39;m ready.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sticky-prices">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-little-inflation-be-good">Can a Little Inflation Be Good?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-most-businesses-just-going-green-to-save-some-green">Are Most Businesses Going Green Just to Save Some Green?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/more-than-just-inflation">More than just inflation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-coupons-trick-you-into-spending-more-money">5 Times Coupons Trick You Into Spending More Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-wallet">10 Things You Should Do Immediately After Losing Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs bubblegum dollar menu prices rising prices Wed, 28 May 2008 11:45:28 +0000 Philip Brewer 2125 at http://www.wisebread.com More than just inflation http://www.wisebread.com/more-than-just-inflation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/more-than-just-inflation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/alley.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="181" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With prices up, price statistics that look preposterous to anyone who shops, and the Fed trying to thread the needle of preventing a recession without letting inflation run out of control, I want to make sure everyone knows that we&#39;re seeing at least two other issues besides inflation.</p> <p>Inflation is when the <strong>money becomes less valuable</strong>. The visible result is higher prices, but it&#39;s important to remember that the higher prices are the result, not the thing itself. In general, inflation is happening all the time--sometimes faster, sometimes slower--but it&#39;s worth keeping in mind that there are other processes that affect prices, because the best strategies are different in different situations.</p> <h2>Changes in relative prices</h2> <p>One other thing that can look like inflation (but isn&#39;t) is changes in relative prices. Relative prices change all the time, of course: the price of text messages goes up, the price of milk goes up more, the price of flash memory cards goes down. Sometimes you get into a situation where the prices of things that everyone buys (food, fuel) go up, while the prices of things that most people don&#39;t notice go down. For example, the price of wool just lately has been so low that (except for certain specialty types) it&#39;s not even worth the trouble of marketing it, even for farmers who raise lambs for meat and have to shear their sheep anyway.</p> <p>Relative prices change for many different reasons. Tastes change, leading to higher prices for whatever the hot, new thing is. There are seasonal changes in relative prices both because of what&#39;s available and what people want to buy. The weather affects relative prices (seasonal weather, but also short-term changes like a hot day and long-term changes like global warming). Changes in technology are a huge factor in relative prices. Not only technological improvements driving the prices of high-tech goods relentlessly downward, but also new, cheap high-tech goods replacing old expensive alternatives (such as plastic buckets replacing galvanized metal ones).</p> <h2>Changes in standard of living</h2> <p>Sometimes price levels just go down as people overall get wealthier. That&#39;s been the dominant trend of the past three hundred years or so. The combination of cheap energy (coal and steam engines at the beginning of the industrial revolution, oil and internal combustion over the past hundred years or so), globalization (letting goods, labor, and capital move to wherever it could be most profitably employed), economic liberalization (letting markets work), and technology have simply made people vastly more wealthy than ever before.</p> <p>Other times prices levels just go up as people overall get poorer. That has always happened for brief periods--when drought or war destroyed the capacity of people to produce the necessities of life, and when bad government or a lack of government made it impossible for productive people to prosper.</p> <p>Over the past few hundred years, declines in the standard of living have generally been temporary--often even brief--but that&#39;s just happenstance and not a law of nature. Two of the great engines of prosperity (cheap energy and globalization) may be just about played out. That could well mean stable or even falling standards of living, and not the continual increases that we&#39;ve all grown used to. </p> <h2>Different things, different strategies</h2> <p>All three of these things are going on all the time, but the strategies for dealing with the them are different, so it&#39;s worth thinking about which ones are dominant at any particular time.</p> <p>I wrote a couple days ago on <a href="/how-to-live-with-inflation">How to live with inflation</a>, which is actually the easiest to deal with, because inflation doesn&#39;t really change prices, it just changes what they&#39;re called. That is, the price of something was called $1.00 last year and this year it&#39;s called $1.10, but the real cost (in terms of hours worked or what other items you could exchange it for) is about the same--wages, salaries, and other prices have all gone up by a similar amount, so you&#39;re really in about the same situation you were in before. Each individual circumstance is different, so some people will fare better and others worse, but as long as you&#39;re aware of the situation and adapt to the changes, you can live with inflation okay.</p> <h2>Dealing with changes in relative prices</h2> <p>Changes in relative prices can be good, of course, if the prices of things that you buy go down relative to prices of things you don&#39;t buy. (People generally don&#39;t even notice when that happens, which is why changes in relative prices are so easily confused with inflation.)</p> <p>For adverse changes in relative prices, though, there are really only two answers. You can adapt by changing your spending choices to buy less of the more-expensive stuff and more of the less-expensive stuff. Or, you can let your standard of living fall.</p> <p>Everybody does both of these things all the time anyway--you go to the store to buy a roasting chicken, find that the fryer are on sale, and just buy a big fryer and roast that instead. Of course, a frying chicken is a pretty good substitute for a roasting chicken. Often there isn&#39;t such a good substitute: Beef gets more expensive so you buy chicken. Chicken and pork get more expensive so you buy lentils. Lentils get more expensive so you buy less. Making do with less is lowering your standard of living. Buying something that you don&#39;t like as much is also lowering your standard of living, although perhaps not by as much.</p> <p>In cases where there simply is no good substitute (whether in an absolute sense, or just because of your family&#39;s preferences), changes in relative prices amount to the same things as a reduced standard of living.</p> <h2>Dealing with changes in standard of living</h2> <p>Putting aside reducing saving and taking on debt (which let you live at a higher of standard of living now, but at the cost of a lower standard of living later), the only answer to a drop in your standard of living is . . . to lower your standard of living. This is true regardless of whether the cause is a change in relative prices or a drop in standard of living across the board.</p> <p>For example, let&#39;s say that oil prices go up. At first, this leads to a change in relative prices--gasoline and fuel oil prices rise.</p> <p>People with a choice don&#39;t just take that lying down, of course. They switch to cheaper fuels. The guy who heats with fuel oil but also has a wood-burning stove will track down some wood to burn. A company might cut a production line at a factory that uses fuel oil while another factory that uses natural gas might add a second shift. The result of these actions is to raise the price of substitutes.</p> <p>Whether they&#39;re paying more for oil, gasoline, wood, or natural gas, companies are all going to try to pass these costs on to their customers. They&#39;ll also try to hold the line on other costs (such as wages). To the extent that they can&#39;t manage either of those things, they&#39;ll end up producing reduced profits for the owners. These changes ripple through the whole economy, making everybody less well off--a decline in the standard of living.</p> <p>The key to dealing with a decline in the standard of living is <strong>not to confuse it with inflation</strong>. If what&#39;s going on is inflation, you can just go on living much as you had been, with some confidence that wages, salaries, and investment returns will all adjust to make things come out even. If you try that strategy when standards of living are declining, you find your savings dropping, your debt rising, and your job unexpectedly at risk. Don&#39;t do that.</p> <p>It&#39;s always hard to tell the difference among these things at the time; it only becomes clear after the fact. Fortunately, you can keep yourself on the right track by making the most cautious choices. If prices go up, look for alternatives. When there are no alternatives, buy less. Look for choices outside the money economy, or at least around the edges--grow vegetables in your own garden, make friends with your neighbors who have gardens, join a local food co-op, sign up with local Community Supported Agriculture, learn about wild foods that grow in your region and start to use them. Keep your saving on track and avoid taking on more debt.</p> <p>To the extent that what&#39;s going on is just inflation and changes in relative prices, these choices may result in an unnecessary drop in your standard of living, because wages, salary, and investment returns will end up balancing the rise in prices. But, if what you&#39;re seeing is a drop in standard of living, then these are the choices that protect your family. If it&#39;s just inflation, then you&#39;re ahead of the game--a bit more money to save and invest. If it&#39;s not, then you&#39;re in much better shape than people who just assumed that everything would be fine.</p> <p>There are worse things out there than inflation. Be ready to deal with them.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/more-than-just-inflation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-live-with-inflation">How to live with inflation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-little-inflation-be-good">Can a Little Inflation Be Good?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/inflation-is-going-away-for-a-while">Inflation is going away for a while</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stag-hyperinflation">Stag-hyperinflation?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance depression inflation prices recession relative prices rising prices Sun, 20 Jan 2008 15:16:35 +0000 Philip Brewer 1653 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 frugal things to try before you die (updated) http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-things-to-try-before-you-die-updated <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/20634706_49a5052ce4.jpg" alt="Dumpster dive" title="Dumpster Dive" width="380" height="285" /></p> <p>Well, I say frugal but some of these cross that line from frugality into something less honorable. But hey, live a little. We all have to try new things sometimes. And they’ll all save you a little money, a little time or a little frustration.</p> <p><strong>1 – Go grocery shopping in the wee small hours.</strong><br />This happened by accident. I needed milk, it was late, and the grocery store near my home was open 24/7. I just could not believe what I saw when I got in there. Bargains, bargains, bargains. Mainly in the bakery and meat areas, but many other aisles felt the wrath of the discounting gun. A variety box of 12 donuts for 99 cents (and still very fresh) was first into the cart. Meats, cheeses, vegetables and breads were slashed by 70% or more. And there was no waiting in line, no hustle and bustle that makes the weekly shop such a pain. I had the run of the store, it was quiet, the bargains were everywhere…midnight shopping is truly a shopper’s paradise. </p> <p><strong>2 - Eat and drink for (almost) free in Vegas</strong><br />Las Vegas is an extraordinary place. They like to keep the folks using the casinos happy, and that usually means lashings of free food and drink as long as you&#39;re playing the games. But you don&#39;t need to be a high-roller to get a free meal. Several of my friends did Vegas on almost no money. They would pop in, play a slot machine or two and when the waitress came around, order a drink and get a meal token. I have never done it myself yet, I have only heard the many stories. But just ask my wife, she&#39;ll tell you it&#39;s on the top of my list of places to try. </p> <p><strong>3 - Drink the drip-tray pint.</strong><br />College students with strong stomachs may already know this one. In my former life as a poor, penniless undergrad, all of my money went on rent, cheap food and school supplies. But I was at college. I wanted to party, every night in a good week. So, how does one stretch the partying dollar? One answer for me was the drip-tray. Beneath each pump is a tray designed to catch “spillage.” Usually it will catch spills from three to four pumps. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a drip tray that catches beers and lagers of very similar persuasions. (If it’s a smaller bar, you may get a heady mix of stout, pale ale, lager and bitter). Now all you have to do is schmooze the server, and if your charms work, he or she may take pity on you and pour the drip tray into your empty pint glass. How does it taste? Well, it tastes like a crappy pint of lager. But it’s a free crappy pint of lager. If your aim is to get tipsy, it works just as well as lager that costs $4. And you just have to do it once to say you’ve done the drip-tray pint. Be brave. I was.</p> <p><strong>4 – Haggle someone down to a low, low price.</strong><br />In some countries, haggling is a part of everyday life. You’ll haggle over the price of everything, from a pound of bananas to a new rug for the hallway. But for some reason the art has become almost lost in America (and even more so in my home country of Britain). Bottom line is this…it never hurts to ask if the person selling the item can go any lower, throw something in for free or give you a discount on another product. Start small and work your way up. Next thing you know, you’ll be haggling with a homebuilder for an extra $25k off the price of your new house. And you know what…you may just get it. </p> <p><strong>5 – Trade, swap or exchange something.</strong><br />I guarantee you have several items in your home right now that are basically useless to you, but are very valuable to someone else. A classic example of this is baby gear. Once your little bundle of joy grows out of toys and clothes, they are no use to you. But they’re plenty useful to new parents. Chances are, there are people out there right now who have something you want, too. All you need to do is go to a place like craigslist and advertise your trade. Some people even trade cars and houses. </p> <p><strong>6 – Visit a charity store like Goodwill.</strong><br />Shake off the stigma. It’s really not a sign that you’ve hit rock bottom and need to buy a pair of old jeans for 75 cents. Places like Goodwill are a treasure-trove of cool things. Remember, there are other words for old. Vintage, classic, antique and period come to mind. A few years ago I found a pair of “old” sunglasses in a local Goodwill for 99 cents. I just liked the look of them. Then I saw the maker, and the imprint. They were an original pair of Christian Dior sunglasses from the 70s. I already know I can get over $100 for them right now on eBay. So, go digging. You’ll find something cool for pennies if you keep your eyes peeled. </p> <p><strong>7 – Go dumpster diving.</strong><br />Ewww, how nasty! Well, dumpster diving is a broad term that covers more than just the nasty, grease-filled metal boxes around the back of restaurants. For instance, when a neighbor rents a roll-off dumpster to have a huge clear out, they will often fill it with more than just rubble and old sheet rock. There are gems to be found. Furniture. Bikes. Lighting. There are folks out there that make an incredible living going dumpster-diving. In fact, there was a show in Britain dedicated to these folks who made lemonade from lemons, metaphorically speaking. I once remarked on a beautiful table in the living room of a friend’s home. It was right out of the 60s, very kitsch, looked brand new. Someone had thrown it away because it was stained and missing a leg. My friend salvaged it, sanded it, replaced the leg and repainted it. She was offered over $2000 for it by an architect who wanted it for a loft conversion he was doing (my friend didn’t sell it…good girl). And you can also find <a href="/a-3-course-meal-from-garbage">fresh food in grocery dumpsters</a> , if you&#39;re feeling really brave. </p> <p><strong>8 – Grow your own vegetables.</strong><br />Seriously, why have we become so dependent on supermarkets anyway? I mean, is it so hard to grow cabbages, lettuce or zucchini? My neighbor doesn’t think so. She grows many great vegetables in her back garden and always gives us free samples. They taste delicious, they are completely pesticide-free and they cost almost nothing to grow. Many of them come back each year with no effort required. My grandpa’s garden was full of potatoes, leeks, herbs, gooseberries, rhubarb, cauliflower, beetroot and tomatoes. A highlight of any visit to my nana and grandpa’s home was the terrific food. Freshly pickled beetroot, rhubarb crumble, cauliflower cheese and gooseberry jam. I am getting hungry just writing this. You can all do it, even if you only have a window box. And the satisfaction you’ll feel…it’s a natural high. </p> <p><strong>9 – Slum it with your food choices.</strong><br />Not McDonalds or Burger King (which really is slumming it). I have been inspired recently by a great show on the Travel Channel called Bizarre Foods, hosted by Andrew Zimmern. He travels the world looking for unusual foods and most of the time, those foods are made up from ingredients most of us would throw away. They’re the cheapest cuts of meat, old (sometimes rotting) vegetables, odd fruits and even worms and slugs. I recently watched a show about Haggis, which is basically a bunch of ground up animal innards stuffed inside a sheep’s stomach (sorry vegetarians). When you choose unsavory foods, you pay less for them because there’s little to no demand. <a href="/free-food-in-your-yard-edible-weeds">Andrea’s article on Edible Weeds</a> is a perfect example of this. Nutritious food growing in your own yard. Why throw it away, when you can eat it? Whatever you try, be it weed soup or eyeball stew, you are at least guaranteed some cheap and memorable life experiences. Dig in. </p> <p><strong>10 – Learn to sew and knit (yes, that includes us guys).</strong><br />My mum taught me how to knit. I’m not great but I can do you a nice scarf or a woolly hat. Using a sewing machine, well, I’m not so good. But I hope to get better. Aside from saving yourself a bunch of money on alterations and repairs, you could also get to that point where you can make your own groovy clothes and pay for just the raw materials. At college, I would marvel at some of the creations my friends in fashion design were wearing. “How much did that set you back” I would ask, at which the reply was something like “Oh, I made it. The fabric was $5, and I got the pattern off a friend for nothing. Nice huh?” Of course, when I asked for one to be made, well then I was paying for that person’s time and it was a lot more expensive. Learn these skills and save some dough. Or, if you just can’t do it, learn another craft. Woodworking. Painting. Rug making. Any one of these hobbies will help you contribute to your household and it’s a much better way to use your spare time than watching TV.</p> <p>That’s my list. If you have any additional suggestions for frugal things people should try, I’d love to hear them. Now, go out and be frugal my friends. Oh, and big thanks to the wonderful <a href="http://www.mytwodollars.com/2007/06/05/presenting-the-money-saving-festival-of-frugality-77/">Festival Of Frugality #77 </a> for giving this story top honors in the editor&#39;s choice. Many great articles here, check them out. </p> <p>Note: Thank you to funkright and <a href="http://www.atsbs.com/" target="_blank" onclick="return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)">E.T.Cook</a> for pointing out that my earlier post offered one piece of irresponsible advice. I appreciate the feedback and have replaced it with something more helpful. </p> <p><em>Great photo by <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/incandenzafied/">Incandenzafied</a> . Thanks. </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-things-to-try-before-you-die-updated">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-gasoline-so-cheap-a-cost-comparison-of-40-common-household-liquids">Why is Gasoline So Cheap? A Cost Comparison of 40 Common Household Liquids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/51-uses-for-coca-cola-the-ultimate-list">51 Uses for Coca-Cola – the Ultimate List</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-all-the-documentary-movies-you-can-handle-free-online-and-yes-its-legal">Watch All The Documentary Movies You Can Handle, Free Online - And Yes, It&#039;s Legal.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-do-to-save-money-that-end-up-costing-you-more">10 Things You Do to Save Money That End Up Costing You More</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/another-path-to-recovery-higher-incomes">Another path to recovery: higher incomes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living charity cheap cheap eats dumpster explore free groceries haggle household prices sneaky try Wed, 30 May 2007 21:55:47 +0000 Paul Michael 688 at http://www.wisebread.com